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Thursday, June 16, 2005
 
Is the Liberal Blogosphere Beating the Pants Off the Conservative Blogs?

Came across this topic through Conservative Grapevine yesterday but didn't have a real take on it at the time. Then this afternoon I happened to be surfing through a couple of the left-wing blogs and noticed something. Post time!

A blogger over at MyDD (moonbat territory) put up a post claiming that the left-wing blogosphere was pulling away from the right-wing blogosphere:

As I have always been prone to do, I spent much of the morning looking at the Blogads traffic rankings. Adding up the 200 blogs that are concerned with politics and either identify or have been identified with Democrats / liberals or Republicans / conservatives, I found 87 blogs that general fit into the "liberal" category and 113 blogs that fit into the conservative category. However, despite the greater number of conservative blogs, the liberal blogs totaled nearly ten million page views per week, while the conservative blogs managed just over six million. I have been tracking the comparative audiences of the two blogosphere off and on for the past nine months, and this is the largest lead for the liberal blogosphere that I have ever found. In September, the margin in favor of Democrats was 25%. In winter, it was 33%. In the spring, it was 50%. Now, it has risen to 65%. This is particularly amazing, since less than two years ago the conservative blogosphere was at least twice the size of the liberal blogosphere.

So the liberal blogosphere is beginning to pull away from the conservative blogopshere in terms of audience size. At the same time, there appear to be more conservative blogs than liberal blogs. In fact, when it comes to total number, new Republican / conservative blogs might even be outpacing new Democratic / liberal blogs. What could be the cause of this?


His conclusion is that the big right-wing blogs don't allow comments and diaries and such, while the left-wing blogs do, and that the resulting sense of community is driving traffic to the liberal blogs.

Now first of all, note the point about page views. This is a little inside blogging stuff (which seems to bore everybody except bloggers to tears), but basically there are two simple metrics for site traffic on the blogs: Unique visitors and page views. Unique visitors tracks how many individuals visit your blog, while page views counts how many total pages you see. For example if you were to come to my site, then click on one of my archive pages, then leave, you'd be counted as one unique visitor and two page views.

Now I don't know too many people who pay much attention to page views. The TTLB (which by the way has undergone quite a facelift) has two main ways of ranking blogs: by links and by traffic. The traffic metric chosen is uniques.

Anyway, here's a gander at the month-by-month site meter of a rather famous left-wing blog, Oliver Willis:




If he were shedding pounds as fast as he's shedding readers, Oliver would be svelte by now.

(Note: On all these graphs, you should ignore the June drop-off; it's solely an artifact of the month not being over yet.)

How about MyDD, the blog where this was originally posted?




Daily Kos has indeed done quite a bit better than those two:




Now let's take a look at the guys who've been getting thrashed. Let's start with Instapundit:




Power Line:




And Captain's Quarters




Okay, a couple things pop out at me from those graphs:

1. Everybody lost traffic from October to November and November to December. In a way this is no surprise. We're all talking baseball here, and after the World Series ends in early November, baseball news cools down for a couple months. Of course, baseball=politics and World Series=Presidential election.

2. Everybody rallied in January, but all three of the conservative blogs did better than MyDD or Daily Kos. Oliver Willis clearly got attention for something in January, although I don't have a clue as to what it was; that's why his traffic for the rest of the year looks so terrible.

3. Captain's Quarters is the only blog with a month in 2005 that's had more traffic than October 2004. Of course, he got half of Canada reading him in April, eh, while the Adscam thing was brewing and the press up there was under a gag order.

4. (And most important): There is some evidence from these numbers that the lefty blogs are racing ahead of the right wingers. Or rather, I would say they are not decelerating as rapidly. All of the blogs have had declines since October, but here are the percentage declines from October-May:

Oliver Willis: -58%
My DD: -74%
Daily Kos: -19%

Instapundit: -49%
Power Line: -35%
Captain's Quarters: -24%

Now of course, looking at the percentages it may not be obvious, but because Instapundit is so much bigger than the other right-wing blogs, and Daily Kos is so much bigger than the other lefties, the Koufaxes as a group only declined by 24%, while the Drysdales declined by 43%.

What's going on? I suspect there are three factors. First, it is well-known that the intensity level goes up more among party activists after a loss than a win. The winners say, well, okay now I can go back to making money, while the losers have new battles to face to limit the damage their causes take. Contributions to Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club go up when Republicans win, and down when Democrats win.

Second, it certainly looks to me like Kos is absorbing the left-wing of the blogosphere. It's ironic that the poster at MyDD was making a big thing about them catching the righties because of their sense of community, when his community was suffering the biggest drop in traffic since the election of any of the blogs. It's quite possible that Kos' big jump since New Year's has come at the expense of many other liberal blogs.

Third, Instapundit may be losing his traffic to smaller right-wing bloggers. Certainly I suspect a lot more people go to Power Line and CQ directly these days rather than waiting to see the link from Glenn.

I'm not trying to say that this proves the original blogger's point, but I certainly started out thinking he was wrong, and had to change my mind when I looked at the numbers hard. Daily Kos has done the best and despite my loathing for that particular blog, nobody would deny that Kos has done the best job of welding his commenters and posters into a community. Oliver Willis and MyDD have made strides in that direction, but apparently not fast enough to avoid getting left at the dock.

If you rank those three conservative bloggers by sense of community, I don't think there's any doubt that Captain's Quarters is #1, Power Line #2 (since they are pretty responsive to emailers) and Instapundit #3. Not a criticism, just an observation. It's also true that's the inverse order of establishment of the blog, so maybe it's just that Instapundit has hit the wall where growth will be sluggish; the law of big numbers as Wall Street puts it.

And the sense of community may change when Pajamas Media gets rolling.

So maybe the criticism is valid, maybe it's not; certainly it does not seem to be absurd. Long-term of course, I have a hard time believing that the audience for liberalism will be larger than the audience for conservatism, regardless of how much community is established.
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